The world these days is giving us many reasons not to love one another. There are so many topics to disagree on, to divide on, to end relationships over, but it doesn’t have to be this way. And we, as followers of Christ, are just as guilty as anyone else. We feel like we know the truth, maybe we feel like we need to proclaim it in Christ’s name. We feel the need to be right because if we’re not right, is God wrong? But that’s not what He called us to. The two commandments he deemed the most important had nothing to do with being right, or judgment, or even spreading his message; they had to do with love.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
Above all else, in every conversation, in every facet of our life, we need to love God and love our neighbor. And who is our neighbor? Everyone, or as my two year old says “all the peoples.” We are called to love the people that bug us, that get under our skin. We are called to love people who are different than us, who we may never understand. We are called to love those who vote for people and policies we don’t agree with: yes, them, too. We are called to love people who do bad things, even bad things to us. We are called to love our enemies, and we will be known to others by this love.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
What a great responsibility, a great burden, a great opportunity to be Christ to others. If people will know that we are Christians by our love, how much greater is our need to understand how to love? And what better way to understand how to love, then to look at the word of God? Once we know what love is, we need to write it on our hearts, write it on post-its and put it all over the house. Put it on the dashboard of your car, on your desk at work, in the background of your phone. We need to remember we represent Christ; our love represents how Christ loves the world. So instead of just knowing what love IS let’s embody it; let’s be love.
Be patient and kind: to everyone always. Listen before you speak, maybe don’t speak at all. Be slow to anger, be patient. Be kind. Harsh words are not kind. Divisive language is not kind. Gossip is not kind.
Do not be jealous or boastful or proud or rude: These are not the times to hitch our self-esteem up to an unachievable keeping up with the Joneses fantasy. Live your life, not someone else’s. Don’t think you are above someone who thinks differently than you, even if your side wins. And above everything, don’t be rude. Just don’t.
Don’t demand your own way: Man oh man, this one is so hard. I think my way is easier, superior, right. Loving someone does not mean I demand them to follow my example. If their opinion is different, be patient, be kind, and love them anyway.
Do not be irritable: It is so easy to fall into being irritable; everything is irritating right now. Have grace for things that irritate, ask for forgiveness, be slow to anger.
Do not keep a record of wrongs: I’d like to think I am forgiving, but to love means to completely forget offenses. It means that everything a person has done before does not contribute to whether or not I love them now. Obviously protect yourself from toxic people, but we still need to love people who bring a lot of baggage to the table.
Do not rejoice about injustice, but rejoice when the truth wins out: We need to come alongside those who are facing injustice, and rejoice with them when truth wins. And it doesn’t matter what “side” this injustice comes from, or what underlying things are propelling it; just don’t rejoice about any injustice, ever.
Never give up, never lose faith, always be hopeful, and endure through every circumstance: Love endures. If we want to be love to those who don’t agree with us, we might need to endure a lot of bad. But by enduring the bad, we are showing that Christ endured. He endured worse, so we can endure this. (Based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Be love in your home. Be love at your work. Be love at your church. Be love in your school. Be love on social media. Be love wherever you are. Be love. Let’s show the world who Christ is by how we love.